By Scott Montgomery with a foreword by Matt Smith
Review by Luke Williams
Releases of the back of the Prog’s 45th anniversary product keep coming. This hefty tome is not Tharg’s first attempt at a reference guide to the Prog’. In the 90’s The Mighty One created the Panini football sticker alike “Data Chips” complete with an album to store them in. Collecting all the Datachips was the “fun” part, or you could take the challenge out of it and just wait until E-Bay was invented and buy the lot in one go.
The 2000AD Encyclopedia is a slightly different proposition. Originally printed in the floppies that come with Judge Dredd Megazine the content has been rejigged, rearranged and expanded in much the same way as Thrillpower Overload was not just a reprint of former editor David Bishop’s articles in the Meg’ on the history of 2000AD. It does exactly what it says on the cover, it’s a reference guide for all the strips that have run in 2000AD and the major characters that have starred therein.
There is plenty of information on each character and strip featured accompanied by a suitably appropriate piece of previously published art, coupled with a short piece on the creation or background on the development of the character/ strip. As you’d probably expect there is little critical appraisal of a strip or character, but occasionally controversies are alluded to, be they the un PC nature of the strip, excessive violence or disputes over creators rights. None of these subjects should be revelatory to Old Squaxx Dek Thargo, but that’s not to say they aren’t interesting.
There don’t seem to be any major omissions, although you could argue that the ABC Warriors could have been broken down into more than two entries (if you discount the Ro Jaws Tobo Tales and Ro Busters entries), because they are such a long running and significant part of the comic. But there will always be the arguments for and against the inclusion of characters and whether a supporting character is significant enough to warrant their own entry. There are the odd error, there is at least one repeated passage and the odd spelling mistake (It’s Judge Dekker isn’t it?), but these are minor gripes against an otherwise professional package.
This is a big book, 31.5 x 27 x 2.5cm and weighing just over 2kg and should come with a risk assessment: “do not store above head height, lift using your knees, keep away from children and small household pets for fear of them being flattened”. Although arguably a companion volume to TPO, it dwarfs that weedy volume and dashes any hopes of neat 2000AD book shelving arrangements as a consequence.
If £39.99 for the “standard” hardback edition in the 2000AD webshop is a bit steep, £55 for the jacketed HB version mit A2 poster of Stuart K Moore’s exquisite cover is the Hillary Step of Everest (very steep). An extra £15 for (a very nice)poster of the cover and book jacket, without postage, seems a bit much. Digital is a far more civilised/ belt tightening friendly / tree loving £19.99 – but you can’t put it on your (lower) bookshelf to display can you? Shop around, see what the denizens of the web have on offer.
Is there anything in here for long term readers? Yes, even for Prog 1ers. It’s nice to dip in and out and pick up on characters or strips that you have completely forgotten about, either for reference or just to reminisce. Of course the drawback with these kind of books is that almost as soon as they are published they need updating, no doubt Rebellion are considering the 50th anniversary edition as we speak. If you choose to read this from cover to cover (as yours truly did, one of the reasons this review is so tardy), it’ll keep you going for a few days and depending on how you hold it when you read it, it’ll sort your bingo wings as well.